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Whale advocate not impressed with SeaWorld changes

NEW YORK (AP) — The director of a documentary that was critical of SeaWorld’s treatment of its killer whales says she’s not impressed by the changes announced today by the Orlando, Florida company.

After more than a year of public criticism, SeaWorld said it will build new, larger environments at its theme parks. And it said it would fund additional research on whales, as well as programs to protect ocean health and whales in the wild.

But the director of the documentary “Blackfish,” Gabriela Cowperthwaite, says the changes won’t improve the lives of whales. She says in captivity, the whales are forcibly bred and separated from their families, and that they fight constantly for dominance. The filmmaker says whales “are not suitable to captivity.”

Still, former SeaWorld trainer Mark Simmons is praising the moves. He says the new environments will provide the whales with mental stimulation that will help keep them healthy.

%@AP Links

148-a-14-(Jim Atchison, president, CEO, SeaWorld, at news conference)-“in the world”-SeaWorld president Jim Atchison says SeaWorld will build new, larger environments for killer whales at its theme parks. (15 Aug 2014)

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150-a-08-(Jim Atchison, president, CEO, SeaWorld, at news conference)-“the world’s oceans”-SeaWorld president Jim Atchison says that, in addition to the new, bigger environment for the killer whales, they’ll fund additional research on the animals. (15 Aug 2014)

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APPHOTO NY121: FILE – In this March 7, 2011 file photo, trainers Joe Sanchez, left, Brian Faulkner and Kelly Aldrich, right, work with killer whales Trua, front, Kayla, center, and Nalani during the Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. After more than a year of public criticism of its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld said Friday, Aug. 15, 2015, that it will build new, larger environments at its theme parks and will fund additional research on the animals along with programs to protect ocean health and whales in the wild. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) (7 Mar 2011)

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